By Niels Viaene
The more attentive among you might have noticed that the Bredene leaderboard has been updated just now. The most attentive among you might have even noticed there is something different about the scoring this time around. In this article we will briefly go over what leaderboards are for and then will look more closely at what some issues were with the old system, what the new system is from now on and how that should improve issues.
A way to compare
The leaderboards are first and foremost a way to track and compete with your friends over multiple events. Having a visible scoring to your games adds an extra dimension to your matches. Be it bragging rights or just some friendly competition, it gives that little extra oomph to make your games of magic extra exciting.
A way to secure slots and byes
The leaderboards run for 5 to 7 months and feed into two events, the Invitational somewhere around the 4 month mark and the Open Championships at the end.
The Invitational is an invite-only event that has 1 person entering by winning the most recent Open Championship, 6 people from various leaderboards, where the larger leaderboards may be allotted more slots and 1 community/wild card. Being first on your leaderboard gives you a seat for the Invitational, and, if you are lucky enough to be second in a large community, you might get one, but this is not guaranteed. it is a single elimination event of which all matches are streamed and get commentary in order to have plenty of deck and metagame information for the following Open Championships.
The Open Championships are the only Competitive events that the League of new and beginning Magic player runs. They take place just before the september and april prereleases and are run in a more traditional swiss rounds system followed by a single elimination top 8. Every leaderboard leader, and only the leaderboard leader, of every boards receives a single bye (a free win) in the first round of the Open Championships.
No player can hold multiple slots or byes, there is a system for passing these on to the next most worthy holder.
Structure and issues with the previous system
The previous system gave 6 points for participating, 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw on every leaderboard.
The biggest advantage was that scores across different leaderboards are comparable, spurring on the budding (friendly) rivalry between Sint Niklaas and Ghent. In the end it seemed like competition needed no spurring after Michiel Van den Bussche descended upon an Open Championship and took home the title. Ever since there has been an ever so slightly more serious approach to Gentry by a few of the Ghent regulars. This possibility for comparing also fell as soon as there was a discrepancy in the number of events, which happened in both instances.
With the comparability a non-factor, we started looking at the issues the system has, and found three: a tendency for draws, being punishing for people that miss even a single event and being too easy to predict during the last update.
The tendency for the system to end up with draws and thus forcing some awkward play-offs lies in the fact that with 6 events and 4 rounds there are only 24 data points excluding drawn matches on the leaderboard. Add into that the fact the top is self stabilising (as is the bottom) and it is no surprise that people were constantly clustered around specific points, separated with gaps of 3. It made the point scoring feel artificial which is never a good thing.
With the participation being half of what other points you can win (6 and 12), missing an event meant lights out for any chance to make it to an Invitational slot. In the entire existance of the leaderboards there has only been 1 person to break this barrier and that was only possible on the smallest leaderboard there is, in Bredene.
And finally, the last leaderboard event was often a jockeying for position in the top slots of the leaderboard, with people manipulating match results in order to influence the leaderboards final form being a looming threat. The fact that you could exactly calculate how much better you needed to do than your competitors and who was where in the time between every round was distracting, especially to players that were not invested in the leaderboard. The excitment surrounding this final event was great, though, and steps were taken to conserve this.
The new system
The new system awards point in a different manner but keeps the structure of “participation award + results award”
You now receive points equal to the reversed final standings of an event. That means that whoever finishes last gets 1 point, and the winner gets points equal to the number of players in the event. This way of awarding point for your result means there are extra tiebreakers hidden into your result that should blend through into the leaderboard itself. It rewards doing well in a bigger event and indirectly (through the tiebreakers of the tournament) for beating opponents who are doing well. The leaderboard will also be a lot more fluid because of this, no more 3 point jumps in the points and a much lower possibility of having any ties. This fixes 2 of the 3 problems we identified.
That leaves us with the problem that people who miss a single event have a near impossible task catching up, even if they perform significantly better than the rest of the people in the rest of the leaderboard. This is mostly because there is a participation award. By lowering the percentage the impact of peoples results are larger and they get a more realistic chance for catching up. The flipside is that the best players get a chance to build a large lead faster but from looking at historic data is would seem that this should be less of an issue. In the end we decided to have the current system award point equal to 1/3 of the number of players rounded up.
The leaderboards already look more organic, not featuring any of the gaps we had before. The first update was a lot more exciting than is used to be since people didn’t know for sure what the impact was going to be. This also makes the final standing of each leaderboard event a lot more relevant, somnething that didn’t matter whatsoever up to now.
How do you feel about the changes? Feel free to share your insights in the comments or on the League’s facebook page.